Travel Ecuador : Facts :

History of Ecuador

The history of Ecuador is long and tumultuous. It includes numerous struggles with other countries, mainly Spain, but there have also been a number of short wars between Ecuador and Peru.

Pre-Inca Times
It is thought that man has been in Ecuador since at least 10,000 B.C. It is known that by the late 15th century there were a number of more important tribal groups, including Manteños, Caras and Huancavilcas in the coastal regions, and Imbayas, Quitus, Shyris, Puruhaes and Cañari peoples in the mountains. However, detailed facts about the period prior to this time are few and far between.

It is thought that prior to the Inca, the country went through phases of development from nomadic hunter-gather type groups, through to those who made pottery, to the development of farming and settlements that were more fixed in nature.

The Inca period
The history of Ecuador continues with the Inca period. Around the middle of the 15th century, the Inca began moving north into modern-day Ecuadorian territory. The attack was led by Yapanqui and his son Túpac Yapanqui. The Ecuadorian tribes were resistant to the invasion, but eventually the Cañaris in the south relented. The Inca developed an extensive road network in both Ecuador, as far north as Quito and Peru, as far south as Cusco. Atahualpa, son of Túpac Yapanqui ruled the Ecuadorian part of the empire in the north, while Huascar, the other son, ruled the south. The brothers did not co-exist peacefully and there was a good deal of fighting between them. Eventually Atahualpa overcame Huascar in 1532. At this point, he relocated to northern Peru, a more central base in his empire.

The Spanish Conquest of Ecuador
Shortly after Atahualpa’s victory over Huascar, the Spanish arrived. Atahualpa misread the situation and befriended the group who were led by Francisco Pizzaro. Pizzaro and his men betrayed Atahualpa by accepting his hospitality and then capturing and beheading him. Atahualpa offered many riches to the Spanish for his release, and despite accepting the deal, the Inca leader was slaughtered anyway.

The General Rumiñahui led the fight against the Spanish. Realizing that they had no chance, the Inca decided to destroy Quito rather than let the Spanish have it as it was. The Spanish won the battle against the Inca in Ecuador within one year of arriving. Francisco Pizzaro moved to Lima, while Diego de Almagro and Sebastian de Benalcázar rebuilt Quito.

The Spanish established a system whereby they owned all of the land. They set up a way of working where landowners could make slaves of the local indigenous peoples. The slaves received food, accommodation and “religious teachings”. Conditions were extremely harsh and many slaves perished. The system continued for many years in this way.

By the end of the 18th century some of the Spanish leaders in South America (creoles) were fed up with continual interference by the Spanish. They began pursuing a dream of independence from the mother land.

Guayaquil was the first to attain independence in 1820. Simon Bolívar, the great liberator became involved in the cause around this time and his army, headed by Mariscal Sucre, liberated Quito in 1822. This was in the Battle of Pichincha.

Following this, Simon Bolívar announced that Ecuador was part of a new country, named Gran Colombia, and made up of Panama, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. This new country did not work out well, and Ecuador was liberated and named in 1830.

Following Independence
The years following independence saw a number of leaders try to take Ecuador in different directions. During Gabriel García Moreno’s rule in the mid 19th century, Catholicism was forced onto the state by Moreno. Following this, Eloy Alfaro a later president reversed many of the decisions taken in Moreno’s presidency. There was a good deal of fighting between liberals and conservatives for many years about the best approach for Ecuador.

Ecuador’s banana success began in the 1950s, and later, in the 1960s, oil was found in the Amazon. These helped to move Ecuador forward economically.

During Ecuador’s modern history, there have been a number of short wars with Peru, mainly border disputes regarding southern Ecuador.

Recent History and Dollarization
In the late 1970s, the history of Ecuador became one that was dominated by its failing economy. There were many different governments during this period, and few presidents managed to stay in office for the whole of their presidency.

By 1999, the country was at the worst point economically that it has been in to date. The Sucre had collapsed. Dollarization was considered the only real alternative and the country began using the US dollar in 2000. Many Ecuadorians lost their life savings during this difficult period.

Most recently, in 2006, Rafael Correa was elected to office. He has been seen to have taken a left-wing approach so far, and has allies in Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez, much to the concern of the Ecuadorian elite. Since taking office, Correa has created a new constitution, which some consider to be progressive.